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CN Briefing: Tata Steel, Palace of Westminster and Build to Rent

First it was 500, then 400, then 700, and now another 250.

That’s the latest number of jobs set to go at Tata Steel as the business prepares for the latest stage of a UK cost-cutting operation that began two years ago.

It may be a story that has flown under the radar for some but that’s near on 2,000 jobs lost at Tata alone as the realities of a newly competitive international market are beginning to be felt.

The job losses themselves, this time concentrated on agency workers, are clearly devastating news for those involved, particularly as they come in a part of the country where the job market cannot exactly be described as buoyant.

But perhaps of even wider concern for those still gainfully employed in the steel business are the words of Tata’s spokesman.

Stuart Wilkie blamed “surging, and often unfairly traded, imports” for creating “a very challenging business environment”.

Reading a little between the lines it’s not hard to work out that “surging imports” is shorthand for overseas steel, particularly from China.

The steel industry has been wringing its collective hands over the impact of cheaper imports from the Far East for some time, with questions raised by some over the quality and composition of the Chinese product.

News even reaches our ears that the issue could be leading to a schism in the sector (stay tuned for more on that next week).

But with the GMB reacting to yesterday’s job losses by expressing fears for the future of the steel industry in this country, and with UK manufactured steel unable to keep up with booming demand, it’s clear that the existing players will have to learn to live with the competition.

Yes, Ministers

On the day that 45 new peers were preparing for a life of comfortable snoozing in the House of Lords, the building work that could interrupt their postprandial naps drew a stage nearer.

The timetable for the appointment of an advisory group to prepare the ground for the restoration of the Palace of Westminster has been outlined.

The partner for the potentially £7bn, 32-year job could be in place as early as next year; if that role gets novated over to the ultimate delivery partner, we could be talking about two generations’ worth of guaranteed revenue.

Probably worth checking the PQQs for typos on this one.

Inside view

The Build to Rent fund has had its critics, but according to one landlord, the £1bn government injection has provided a catalyst for a new type of housing


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